Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda

Safari Guide: Queen Elizabeth National Park

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Niarra Travel

Nestled in Uganda’s southwestern corner, Queen Elizabeth National Park encompasses a vast array of landscapes that shelter an equally vast variety of wildlife. Perfectly petite (by African standards) at 1,978 sqkm, the question isn’t really how big Queen Elizabeth National Park is, but how much is packed into it. The answer is, a lot!

The region is roamed by huge herds of buffalos and elephants and the greatest variety of large mammal species in the country including chimpanzees, who live in the spectacularly lush Kyambura Gorge, an absurd amount of hippos, and lions that have a neat trick up their sleeves. Another interesting fact about Queen Elizabeth National Park is that it is incredibly bird-rich. A rainbow-hued assortment of over 600 species call it home, making it a veritable birders paradise.

Perhaps not a household name like some of Africa’s other big-hitters – Maasai Mara, Kruger, Serengeti – Queen Elizabeth National Park holds its own as Uganda’s most popular and accessible safari destination. Here, the volcano-hewn landscapes are spectacular, the park set within a rift valley and filled with savannah, grasslands, forests, wetlands and lakes.

So, what do you need to know about Queen Elizabeth National Park?

Lion Tracking Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda2

Best Time to Visit Queen Elizabeth National Park

As an all-year-round park, both the dry and wet seasons have a lot to offer. Therefore, the best time for your visit will depend on the type of safari you want to experience.

Dry Season - January to February & June to July

Average Temperature: 29°C

Average Rainfall: 38mm

At this time of year, with the sun shining in the sky, thinner vegetation makes animals easier to spot and more likely to gather at water sources, and drier trails make safaris on foot much easier.

Wet Season - March to May & August to December

Average Temperature: 17°C to 29°C

Average Rainfall: 96mm

The park’s beauty increases exponentially with the rains, as the region becomes vibrantly green and alive.

For birders, the best time to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park is late May to September. The park can be one of the best spots for migratory bird watching in Africa, so consider visiting between November and April to get a few ticked off your list.

Lion Tracking Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda1

Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park

With the greatest variety of wildlife of all the parks in Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to plenty of bucket list animals. Among the residents are four of the Big 5 (no rhinos), Ugandan kob, topi, hyenas, crocodiles, leopards and warthogs, to name just a few, as well as a few more unusual specimens.

Amongst the animals of the park are a population of intriguing tree-climbing lions. Perhaps a rare and fascinating sight elsewhere, in the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park you’ll find them casually lounging up in the branches of fig trees away from their ground-dwelling habits, for reasons that experts can’t quite fathom.

Safaris here can be done by vehicle, on foot or by boat. A cruise down the Kazinga Channel is a particularly good way to spot a load of different species. As one of the park’s main water sources, many animals gather on the banks to drink while birds, like yellow-billed storks, goliath herons and the magnificent, and somewhat haunting, shoebill storks, scour the reed beds for food. The waters here are also said to be home to the world’s highest concentration of hippos, so keep your eyes on the surface to spot peeping eyes and waggling ears.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is also one of the best places to have an encounter with chimpanzees in Uganda. Hiking through the great, green Kyambura Gorge, sometimes referred to as ‘the valley of the apes’, with a knowledgeable guide, you’re likely to come across the resident troop and can spend up to an hour watching them going about their lives in the treetops above.

Chimpanzee in front a tree trunk in Queen Elizabeth National Park

The best lodges in Queen Elizabeth National Park

There are plenty of charming lodges within the boundaries of the national park, and options to suit all budgets. From tents and thatched cottages with glorious views of wildlife to luxury lodges that keep you fully immersed in the bush for your entire stay. The accommodation in Queen Elizabeth National Park has the ability to bring you even closer to the abundance of fascinating natural spectacles that take place here on a daily basis.

Kyambura Gorge Lodge

A former coffee plantation that has been restored into a luxurious and comfortable safari base, the lodge is placed on the edge of the park. Notably, it is particularly well located to visit the chimpanzees of Kyambura Gorge, and has excellent links with local community projects.

The sweeping views over the savannah to the mountains beyond are particularly spellbinding from the private verandas of all of the eight banda cottages, each space accented with handicrafts and local artworks. You’ll find a bar, lounge, dining area, a swimming pool and small spa in the breezy main lodge and a whole range of safari activities to keep you enthralled throughout your stay.

Katara Lodge

Handcrafted to harmonise with its enchanting surroundings, Katara Lodge is carved into a hillside situated on the Great Rift Valley. Overlooking both Lake Edward and the Rwenzori Mountain ranges, the breathtaking views from just outside your bedroom window will leave you awe-struck.

Hosting eight thatched cottages, made from locally sourced materials, and a two-bedroom family cottage the lodge serves as an intimate and luxurious base between exciting chimpanzee trekking experiences, game drives and cruises along the Kazinga channel.

If you would like to experience the thrill of an African safari at Queen Elizabeth National Park then get in touch with our expert travel team on +44 (0) 20 3821 5994 (UK), +1 (833) 215 9353 (US) or at explore@niarratravel.com and start creating your unforgettable Uganda safari experience today.

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